2

We ran DC!

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*Disclaimer: if you are not a runner, could care less about race reports, only look at my blog to see pictures of my son and/or dog, etc, this post WILL bore you. But please feel free to scroll through and admire my new bling and a couple pictures of G$…and like my post on facebook b/c it makes me feel special. OK, thanks. xo

On Sunday, I completed my 7th half marathon. For many reasons, this race may have entered into the category of favorite races. Let’s be honest though, it doesn’t take much to beat out sweltering and/or freezing temps in Virginia Beach, leaving your running bag in Richmond when your race is in Nashville, having a baby several weeks before your race, simply not training, etc.

The Nike Women’s Marathon and Half Marathon is a race to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It gained its popularity in San Francisco and has become one of the biggest races to raise money for LLS. I’d be lying if I said this is what attracted me to the race. I think it’s great and I wish that I had it in me to raise money with Team in Training for LLS, but (selfishly) what really got my attention was the fact that the finishers’ medal is a Tiffany’s necklace. It even had me considering doing a marathon 7 years ago when I first started running. This was the first year Nike brought the race to DC – or anywhere other than San Fran, for that matter! It was kind of a big deal. Or at least Nike made us all think it was – and I believed them.

The race weekend started on Thursday when Graham and I went to the expotique. If there is one thing that Nike is good at, it’s marketing! Everywhere you turned in Georgetown you were met with the bright green We Run DC posters, neon running gear, and tiffany blue running shoes! The packet pick-up was really well-organized – I was in and out of there within minutes (I heard that wasn’t the case later in the weekend, but it worked for me). The expotique was great, too! There weren’t many vendors like most expos, but what was there was nice – Nuun sampling (which I LOVE), Luna bar hand-outs, a chance to get your hair done with Paul Mitchell stylists, and a “make-under” with Bare Escentuals. There were plenty of other little prizes too – and lots of loud music. It was like walking into a club. Big party.

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one of the many We Run DC signs.

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wall of names

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my name!

Saturday Race Preparation: nothing says half marathon like a good glass of wine:

pre-race hydration party...or wine tasting for Kristen's birthday :)

pre-race hydration party…or wine tasting for Kristen’s birthday 🙂

And you’re never really ready for a race until you’ve laid out your clothes and taken a picture:

ready to run (didn't wear green shirt - too hot)

ready to run (didn’t wear green shirt – too hot)

Saturday night, Steve drove me into DC so that I could stay the night with my running buddy/teacher friend/Ragnar teammate, Michelle. Her boyfriend had agreed to waking up extra early to drive us and another running buddy to the start line (brownie points). When we arrived we were engulfed in a sea of pinks and purples, lululemon gear, running skirts, tutus, tiaras, etc. Nike was smart and had TONS of port-o-potties so the lines moved quickly. I’m not one to usually check a bag due to the hassle, but this time I didn’t have a choice and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was! Everything was just really organized – even down to our color coordinated arm bands to show which wave we were in.

Alright, blah blah blah, let’s get to the race! The crowd was pumped as we started the inaugural Nike Women’s Marathon Half DC! There was a lot of fist pumping, waving hands in the air, “woo-ing”, etc. (if anyone still reading has ever watched How I Met Your Mother, you’re probably familiar with what a “Woo Girl” is – there were a lot of them at the race!) The bands on the course were fun- my favorites were the drummers in the tunnel! So good! The spectators along the course were also awesome! Even when we headed out towards Haines Point and the spectators thinned out a bit, there were motivational signs along the way to keep you going. I even had my own little cheering squad set up a couple of places along the course. It gave me such an energy boost each time that I saw Steve and Graham and heard them (Steve) yelling, “Go, mommy, go!” Graham was excited to see his mommy running….but not excited to his mommy keep running past him.

My one complaint was that it was really crowded for the first 6 or 7 miles….lots of weaving in and out of people, shuffling your feet so you didn’t run on the heels of the person in front of you (sorry to the girl in the purple shirt who’s heel I stepped on and almost took your shoe off). I understand that with 15,000 runners, it will be crowded – but maybe to help spread us out a bit more there could be more waves. So if you’re reading, Nike…think about it!

With my bum knee I had been encouraged to start slow. With the crowding, I didn’t have a choice, so that was good. By the time I finally had some room, I was warmed up and was able to pick up the speed a bit. I managed to PR even with the old lady knee and a potty break! It wasn’t the PR that I had hoped for, but I’ll take it! Sub 2:00s, I’m coming for you!! You will be mine.

We made it!

We made it!

Would I “run DC” again? Probably, if I made it in the lottery. Would I be totally bummed if I didn’t make the lottery? Probably not. Would I run San Fran? Yes, but only b/c I’ve never done a race there. Nike puts on a good show. And really, what girl doesn’t want a necklace from Tiffany’s?!

I ❤ Tiffany’s

xoxo,
Jo

2

Flower Therapy

No pain, no gain.
If little labour, little are our gains:
Man’s fate is according to his pains.” – Robert Herrick

I’m not so sure I agree with Mr. Herrick and his little poem. I guess this is an “everything in moderation” situation.

The past few days have been a little stressful for me. As many of you know, I’ve been training for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC this weekend. I’ve been looking forward to this race since December when I entered into the lottery and then actually got in (I never get chosen for things or win anything…and I mean, never!). Anyway, I went out Sunday morning for my one and only long run (training schedule is different from normal due to my marathon last month) and somehow managed to hurt my knee. (womp, womp) I called Steve to come pick me up a few miles from home, cried, and iced. Monday I had another run that ended too quickly and was followed with a few tears. By Tuesday I was past being sad and I was just PO’d. So I did what any normal person would do…planted flowers.

This was another one of Steve’s great ideas (the bathroom remodeling was his idea, too). It really was a great idea – I wanted flowers and vegetables planted. I just didn’t want to do the planting. My go-to gardening joke is that instead of having a green thumb, I have a black thumb (funny, right?!). I kill everything. Basil plants are great ideas, but they don’t last long around here. Orchids, that don’t require much watering, don’t last long. And bamboo trees, that literally require no work….well, that one is actually still alive, though we’ve had some close calls. So yes, put me in charge of planting the flowers!

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picking out flowers at home depot

Much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed myself. And it was even therapeutic. Don’t get me wrong, I would have preferred going for a nice long run. But you know what they say –> if one can’t run – garden! (no one really says that)

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helper #1….he’s mad b/c I planted flowers in his favorite dirt spot.

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helper #2…

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my ocd kicked in a little bit when he got dirt on my Brooks (!)

I really want some fresh garden tomatoes this summer, so I decided to leave the vegetables to Steve. I think he has a better track record for keeping things alive. He did a great job! Hopefully we’ll have tomatoes, squash, peppers (sweet and spicy), and a couple herbs!

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Our neighbor studied agriculture – I love looking at his garden (top pic), but I’m kind of glad he can’t see our garden (bottom pic) haha

All-in-all, it was a good day and a positive way to work out some frustrations! To help with my knee, I’ve started doing some cross-training (which I should have been doing consistently all along!) – Jillian Michaels is a beast. I’d like to find a dvd with more runner specific workouts, but this will do for now.

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shredding

xoxo,
Jo

2

Living the dream.

“I’d be yours if you’d be mine…..
So love the one you hold, and I will be your goal
To have and to hold, lover of the light.” – Mumford and Sons

Steve’s been home for a month now. Ever since he got back I’ve been wanting some quality family time and some quality one-on-one time. We have spent a lot (and I mean A LOT) of time together lately, which is what I wanted, but it hasn’t exactly been how I pictured it in my head.

Instead of sweet family time, we’ve gotten a lot of this:

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a little sickness + terrible 15 months (is that a thing?) + some separation anxiety = awesomeness.

Which has led to a lot of this:

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sick, cuddly baby – so sweet and sad. until day 6 when all you want to do is pee in peace without the baby crying, begging to be held.

Which has ultimately led to a lot of this:

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survival mode.

And following along with the not-so-ideal-family-time theme, we thought this was a good time to remodel two bathrooms:

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we escaped with only a few tears and a couple of marital spats. we’re still happily married – I’d say it was a success.

And then finally, just when I thought I was at the end of my rope, the gods returned my baby to me….and then he pooped in the tub and thought it was hilarious (such a boy):

happy again! (top right doesn't look "happy". that's his determination look - he WILL climb out of the crib)

happy again! (top right doesn’t look “happy”. that’s his determination look – he WILL climb out of the crib)

We still have some work to do in the separation anxiety department, but for now I’ll take what I can get.

In the midst of all the crazy, we’ve actually had some great family time! Graham got to hang out with some of his cousins at Easter in Blackstone AND he went to his first baseball game!

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cousins!

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before and after the game – excited boys and tired boys 🙂

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so much fun at opening day! loved getting to take josh with us 🙂

I’m still waiting for a proper date with Steve – just the two of us. It’ll happen eventually. In the meantime, we’ve made-do and settled for in-home foam rolling dates. Nothing says “love” quite like laughing hysterically while inflicting pain (for the greater good of your muscles) on your loved one.

romantic.

romantic.

I think the moral of this story is to be careful what you wish for….you just might get it!

xoxo,
Jo

2

Ukrop’s Monument 10K race report.

In honor of the Boston Marathon today, I’ll share with you my 10k race report….which is not nearly as exciting. Sorry. *Update: Spreaking of the Boston Marathon…thoughts and prayers for all of the runners and spectators!

Ahh the Monument 10K…my favorite race, ever. Run in my favorite city, the Ukrop’s Monument 10k takes runners down Richmond’s Monument Avenue which is lined with beautiful historic homes, great shade trees, and some of the best volunteers and spectators I’ve ever experienced…..oh and of course there are the monuments (Stonewall Jackson, Arthur Ashe, Robert E. Lee…just to name a few)! This year there were over 38,000 runners and walkers. It’s kind of a big deal. It’s one of the largest races I’ve participated in and somehow manages to be one of the best organized races, as well. (if you’ve ever run a poorly organized race before, you know how crucial this is)

This year the weather could not have been better! Perfect racing conditions. I headed down to Richmond Friday afternoon and got out of the expo in time for dinner with my sister (and niece) and a Richmond sunset. Afterwards I settled in at a friend’s house for a great night’s sleep – they were out of town, but graciously let me crash! (Thanks and love you guys!)

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RVA sunset

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Sweet Charlotte

ready to run!

ready to run!

The next morning came awfully early. I watched the sun rising as I crossed the river into downtown. If you’ve ever gone to a bar in the fan district you know how difficult parking can be – now add roughly 40,000 people. I had actually arranged to take a shuttle, but lucked out and found a spot just a couple blocks up from the finish line. As I walked to the start, I got to see the Kids Run….so cute. Get ready, Graham, that’ll be you in a few years!

Good morning, runners!

Good morning, runners!

Kids Run!

Kids Run!

I have no complaints from this race. I love everything about it. Yes, it’s a crowded race. Yes, you have to run on cobblestone, which can be challenging. Yes, sometimes you want to stop running and cash in on all of the free booze offered along the way. But…I only got stuck in one water station traffic jam, I didn’t bite it on the bumpy cobblestone, and I didn’t get drunk on the course 😉 And I set a personal record: 52:22.

40,000 of my closest friends :)

40,000 of my closest friends 🙂

Done and done.

Done and done.

The best part of the race: WHITE HOUSE ROLLS! As I approached the food tent post race, I thought “Eww bagels.” Then I remembered that they don’t give out bagels, they give out Ukrop’s White House Rolls! Then I thought, “Jackpot!” If you’re from the Richmond area, you probably know how delicious these little gems are. And if you know me, you probably know my slight obsession with carbs, especially rolls. I could eat my weight (and your weight) in Ukrop’s rolls.

Manna? ;)

Manna? 😉

Thanks, RVA for a great race weekend. I’ll see you again next year!

xoxo,
Jo

1

Happy Birthday, Furry Best Friend!

“Some other folks might be a little bit smarter than I am,
Bigger and stronger, too. Maybe.
But none of them will ever love you the way I do.
It’s you and me, boy….
You’ve got a friend in me.”  – Randy Newman (Toy Story)

Today, folks, is a very special day in the Dahl household. It is our first born’s birthday. No…I’m not talking about Graham – Scout is two years old today! It’s kind of hard to believe it’s only two years…I can’t really remember what life was like without him. If I thought really hard about it I would probably remember that BS (Before Scout) I didn’t have to worry about dog care when going out of town, I didn’t have to sweep up copious amounts of dog fur daily, I didn’t have to mop up the floor after every time “someone” drank from his water bowl (no, not Steve), I didn’t have to hide all sweets (especially cakes) when leaving the room, I didn’t have to have “poop-pick-up” days, I didn’t have to remove any large-white-dogs-that-may-or-may-not-belong-to-me from the neighbors’ garage, deck, living room, etc, and I (ie Steve, Peter and Shawn) didn’t have to repair the fence so that aforementioned “someone” could no long escape to steal trash and fertilizer from the neighbors (who probably hate us, ie Scout).

first day scout

All of the other pups were stuck in the fence, unable to fully walk yet, or barking in a corner – Steve said, “Let’s get this one….he seems to have his $%*! together.”

We might love each other.

We might love each other.

Cutest beach pup, ever.

Cutest beach pup, ever.

Mess maker....

Mess maker.

Flip cup champ.

Flip cup champ.

Best big brother.

Best big brother.

One of the guys.

One of the guys.

Best friend.

Best friend.

My boys.

My boys.

I may complain from time to time about this beast, but alas, I love him and would be lost without him. I love him so much that I’ve almost forgotten about the few times I’ve threatened to give him away to the highest bidder (or first willing to take him). 

So tonight, Scout, on your second birthday, I hope you dream of chocolate cakes galore, trash cans waiting to be turned over, mail that’s asking to be chewed, boxes full of tennis balls, holes in the fence that would allow you to escape and terrorize the neighbors, and poopy diapers that you can eat up and I can later remove from places I’d rather not talk about (true story…).

xoxo,
Jo

7

26.2…because 26.3 would be crazy!

“I run from hate, I run from prejudice, I run from pessimists, but I run too late.
I run my life or is it running me? Run from my past, I run too fast, or too slow it seems.”  -Lady Antebellum


I know, I know…where have I been? I welcomed you into my life, shared with you what it’s like to live a day in the life, and then I disappeared. Don’t worry, I left Steve hanging, too. As I type this he’s on his way home from another 75ish day deployment. When he left I told him that I would take up The Daily Dahl again for him….and as you know, I did not. I don’t know what my problem has been – I promise that I haven’t been lacking in material! There are so many little stories I have wanted to share. Confession: I’ve been tired. Too tired to think, much less write.

But I’m back. And with a new title under my belt! I am now a marathoner. What better way to reintroduce The Daily Dahl than with my RACE REPORT?!

Back in the fall I knew I wanted to do a big race this spring. I thought maybe I would do another half, but after being inspired by friends and family running the Marine Corp marathon and the Richmond marathon I decided that maybe I, too, could join the ranks as a marathon runner. I researched some training programs and saw that a local running store was offering a distance training program geared specifically for the race weekend I was interested in. (Local running store: Potomac River Running…best running store EVER! Great coaches, great programs, great advice, great races, great product, etc) I took it as a sign and immediately registered for DTP through PR and changed my Shamrock Half-Marathon registration to the Shamrock Marathon. I was committed.

My training officially started in December and I felt great! I was stronger and faster than I had been in years. My Saturday morning runs were going great – I would always run a mile longer than I had planned, or I would keep the pace through hills and wind, or I would have negative splits, or whatever. I felt good after each run. I was setting new PRs every weekend. I felt encouraged and proud of myself. I don’t remember when things started to decline. Steve left and weekday runs became more challenging because of the weather – in an effort to avoid buying stores out of Boogie Wipes, I tried to keep Graham out of the bitter cold. I wasn’t able to make it out on Thursday nights for track workouts, which meant that I wasn’t working on my speed. Yes, I have a treadmill…but at the end of the day I was so tired that the last thing I wanted to do was get on the “dreadmill”. I was still doing alright with my long runs on the weekends. I did my 18 miler on the treadmill because it was something like -8 outside. My 20 miler got broken up into two 10 mile runs because halfway through I was barely functioning thanks to the freezing cold wind. My 21 miler went well – finished around 3 1/2 hours, minor cramping, didn’t die…I was feeling confident as I headed into tapering. I raced the Reston 10 miler and felt GREAT! I set a couple PRs, had negative splits, conquered hills, wind and cold temps, etc. The next weekend I headed out for my last long run before race day. I comfortably ran 10 miles, tried out my race day gear, and felt fine. I was ready.

Then came Tuesday. I was a nervous wreck.  I had already emailed my coach panicking about what to wear for race day, now came the aches and pains. I had made it through training injury free and all of the sudden my back was killing me, my hip was causing me to limp, my foot screamed with pain every time I flexed it, I had a crick in my neck, etc. On Thursday my blood pressure was high (I know this only because I had a doctor’s appointment….I never have high blood pressure!). I was falling apart. As I headed into the weekend I was stressed and already feeling defeated.  When I got to the expo on Saturday, along with my cheering squad (mom, Joy, Charlotte, and Graham), my nerves finally calmed a little. I found the shamrock running hat I had been searching for online and was able to get my back taped – things were falling into place. I carbo loaded for dinner (just like I had been all week long!), hydrated, relaxed and actually got a good night’s sleep!  By Sunday morning I was ready – it was just another weekend long run with a few thousand other runners.

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Ready to shamrock the marathon!

I got to the start line and realized immediately that I had underdressed. It was freezing and the wind was out of control. The weather was nothing new – the majority of my training was done in similar conditions. But on this particular morning, I was not dressed appropriately – I was counting on “it feels 20 degrees warmer when you’re running.” With only 4 corrals, I didn’t have to wait long before crossing the start line. I found the 4:30 pacer and we were off. This was it, I was running a marathon. It was a comfortable pace, exactly what I had trained for.

My cheering squad (mom, Joy and the two little ones) rooted me on in the first couple of miles. It felt great to see them! Little did I know, that would be one of the few cheers I got along the way. After a few miles I was still pretty cold – to the point that I was tempted to pick up runners’ throw-away jackets off the side of the road! Around mile 6 we did our first turn-around and I realized that for at least the next 10 miles I’d be running into the wind. I started to get a little worried. Would I be able to keep up? Even in my training, on the windiest of days I never did much more than 10 miles – and I still had 20 miles to go! But oh well, it was too late to turn back now! I saw the running juggler(!) – you know, the one I talked about back in September after the Rock and Roll half – crazy show-off. I hope the wind blew his balls away. Anyway…I made it through Camp Pendleton just fine – I even warmed up enough to take my gloves off for a few minutes!  I had fallen a little behind the 4:30 pacer, but they were still in sight. At mile 10 I stopped for a potty break and some water. I had planned on stopping every 5 miles to refuel, so this was fine. Unfortunately, this was when I lost my pacer. At mile 11 I was surprised on the boardwalk to see my cheering squad again. That bit of encouragement boosted me along to the half marathon mark. I crossed at 2:20 – I was 5 minutes behind. I knew there would be no making it up, so I quickly made peace with finishing around 4:45.

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Saying hi around mile 2.

The next 3 miles seemed to take forever. The wind was kicking my butt. I was freezing cold. I saw several half-marathon finishers wrapped up in what looked to be fleece blankets (shamrock always has great hand-outs for finishers!) and I kept wishing I could be finished and wrapped up in said blanket! This was also when I started seeing elite runners coming into the home stretch. (I even saw one of my coaches!) At mile 16 I ran past the last of the already sparse crowd of spectators. Heading towards Fort Story was quiet and lonely. I stopped for another quick potty break around mile 17. My back had been hurting on and off, but I thought the kt tape was doing it’s job pretty well. My hip flexers were tight, but I could handle it. I was actually in decent shape – I didn’t hurt too badly, I was just really cold and tired. At mile 18 I started thinking about my pacer again. I was relieved that the 5:00 pacer hadn’t passed me. Of course, as soon as the thought crossed my mind, who came along side me but the 5:00 pacer! Gah (shaking my fist in the air)! I actually kind of want to cry thinking about it again…

 As I neared the Cape Henry lighthouse, the thought of entering back into civilization kept me going. After walking through the water station at mile 21 I decided that I wouldn’t walk again until I crossed the finish line. I was in the final stretch. I had hit my wall (a few times) and made it through. I knew the end was in sight. I knew I was going to finish. I knew there was a warm blanket waiting for me at the end! As I headed towards mile 24 I was surprised to see Joy, who ran with me for a couple minutes, then I saw my mom, my mother-in-law, and Scout (yes, seeing Scout kinda made me want to cry…he was probably like, “wth, you’re running without me?!”) Joy dropped off and mom picked up and ran a couple more blocks with me. While she was jogging alongside, encouraging me, I couldn’t help but think about 7 years ago when I ran my first 10k. It was my mom who had reassured me the night before that I would be able to run 6 miles, and now here I was 23 miles in and she was doing the same thing. Thanks, mom, for being my #1 fan 🙂 Once I hit the 24 mile flag I slowly started to pick up the pace (oxymoron?). It was about that time that my music died. Oh well. That only made me want to go faster and finish sooner. I wanted to earn the cheers of the few people that were left standing out in the cold, so I dug a little deeper.

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Finish line 🙂

I crossed the finish line at 5:14. I was 44minutes past my goal, so I did what anyone would do…I cried…well, first I got my medal and fleece blanket(!), then I cried. Disappointed is an understatement. Joy was the first to meet me with a great hug – I cried into her shoulder saying I didn’t get my time. She thought I meant I hadn’t seen what time I finished, so she quickly told me my time – , as if I needed reminding, oh no, I was well aware. Yes, I’m glad that I finished. Yes, I know, I ran 26.2 miles (26.43, according to my garmin). And I’m still bummed. I’ve heard a couple of similar “first marathon” stories and been reassured knowing that I’m not the only one. I think I just had a bad race day. It’s true when they say that running is a mental game – your biggest competition is yourself. And I kicked my own ass. Maybe things would have been different if there hadn’t been the wind, or if I had ever warmed up, or if I felt more support along the course, etc. At the end of the day, I know that I’m walking away from this experience as a better runner.

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Trying to smile through the tears…and keep Graham from stealing my gatorade.

A few positives:

-I am a marathon runner.
-I have a 26.2 sticker on the back of my car that I worked hard for.
-I will run another marathon.
-I set the bar low enough that it should be easy to set a marathon PR and then I can brag about shaving x number of minutes off of my time.
-I set a distance PR.
-My last mile was faster than my first…that qualifies negative splits!? (hollerrrr)
-I was reminded of what great family and friends I have! I couldn’t have done it without each of you – those who came to the race (my parents, in-laws, and little sister….and Graham, Scout and Charlotte 🙂 ), sent me messages, sent me cards, babysat so I could train, sent me flowers, posted words of encouragement on my dailymile profile, gave me race advice, made me a marathon victory bag, etc. Seriously…I would be lost without you guys!

Now it’s time to prepare for the Nike Women’s Half in April! I have a few goals in mind 🙂

xoxo,
Jo – a marathon runner

1

What Six Looks Like

“Goodbye old friend, I’ll see you again on the day when we all gather in the sky.
Until then I hear your laughter in the wind and your smile is hiding here behind my eyes.” -Gary Hickman (my daddy)

I’ve sat down at my computer several time over the past few days trying to write about the events that happened last Friday in Connecticut. My attempts at writing are quickly halted as it’s hard to type when you can’t see the keys through the tears. While I sit here crying now, I’m excepting the fact that it may take longer than usual to write this, as I have to frequently stop to wipe my tears.

I have had a hard time trying to explain what it is that I’m feeling exactly. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have stopped what I was doing to sit and sob over the lost lives.

As many of you know, before this year I was a teacher. I know what it’s like to care for your students, to love them as your own, to try to protect them from bumps on the playground and hurt feelings from friends. I remember having my k-2 students huddled around me in our dark classroom during an intruder drill, reading to them, trying to calm their fears, assuring them that it was okay because this was only practice. I guess this struck such a chord with me because I know what six looks like.

No, I don’t have a six year old of my own, yet…but I pray that Graham will make it safely to six and then on to ninety-six. I do, however, have a beautiful niece and handsome nephew who are both six…and so very, very special. So, this is what my six looks like:

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Josh, 6

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Nora, 6

While reading through some other blogs, I stumbled across this one that said everything I wanted to say. So I leave you with her words that so beautifully describe what it is about “six” that we all love…

What Six Looks Like
by
Jennifer Rowe Walters
I am not really a major cryer. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I cry — when it’s appropriate to do so. Funerals. The occasional wedding if it’s particularly beautiful or meaningful. Schindler’s List. Things that normal people cry at. I am definitely not an over-cryer. I don’t cry at commercials or cheesy Hallmark movies or at the drop of a hat. And, when I do cry, there’s usually a beginning and an end. I cry. I get it out. I stop. Normal crying.
However, since I first started to understand the magnitude of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday morning, I have cried a lot. I cried when I heard the terrible news. I cried when I went to pick my son up early from school. I cried when I told my husband what had happened. I cried when I talked to my girlfriends about it. I cried at church when we prayed for each victim by name. Off and on for going on three days now, I have cried. And this is despite going out of my way to not watch anything about it on TV or read too much about it online. I’m actively trying to avoid it, but I still find myself crying more than usual.
I mentioned this to a friend last night and she said that she couldn’t seem to stop crying either. When I asked her why she thought that was, her answer was, for me, a revelation. She said, “I think it’s because we know what six looks like. We see it every day… in all its glory.” And she was right. Because, you see, this friend and I both have a six-year-old child. I, a six-year-old son. She, a six-year-old daughter. Both are in first grade. Both, I imagine, so heart-breakingly similar to those 20 kids who were so brutally and senselessly killed on Friday morning. And we do, indeed, know what six looks like. We do see it every day. In all its glory. We see the good, the bad and the ugly. The beautiful and the infuriating. It’s in our face. We live it and breathe it.
We know what six looks like. We know what it smells like. How it can go from the fresh scent of shampoo and soap to the musky aroma of “dirty child” in what seems like minutes. How it resists getting in the bathtub… and then resists getting out half an hour later. How sweet its hair and skin and clean jammies smell when it sits on your lap and asks you to read it a bedtime story. We know the unmistakeable fragrance of the occasional accident in the middle of the night caused by too much milk and no last-thing-before-bed visit to the toilet.
We know what six looks like. We know what it sounds like. How it cries and whines. How it sings and laughs. How clever it is and how much more clever it grows every day. How it sounds out words on signs as we drive past in the car and how happy it is when it gets them right. How annoying it sounds when it teases its little sister and how kind it sounds when it soothes her when she falls down and hurts herself. We know how lovely the words “Mommy” and “Daddy” and “I Love You” sound in its six-year-old voice.
We know what six looks like. We know how it tastes. How picky it is. How it thinks chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese are gourmet foods. How much it loves candy and cookies. How it tolerates broccoli and carrots. How it absolutely abhors Brussels sprouts. How it thinks French fries are a vegetable. How it thinks chocolate milk was created by God himself. How it thinks pizza is its own food group. We know that six is happy when it finds “I love you!” written on a napkin in its lunch box at school.
We know what six looks like. We know how it feels. How big it’s getting. How fast it outgrows its clothes and how it’s no longer a baby, but not quite yet a big kid. We know the weight of six in our arms. How we can barely carry it anymore, but try anyway because we can’t quite bring ourselves to accept the truth. We know how easily six gets its feelings hurt if someone says just the wrong thing or if this friend or that one doesn’t want to play with it or it gets in trouble at school. We know the velvety softness of six’s skin. We know the still-silkiness of its hair.
Yes, we know what six looks like. We know six’s gap-toothed smile and its gangly arms and legs. We see how it jumps and dances. How it twirls and runs. We know how funny six is. How absolutely charming it can be. We know six’s terrible jokes. We know how obsessed it is with “Minecraft.” We know its crooked “S” and its backwards “3.” We see how it teeters on the cusp of the world of books and all the joys of reading, but how it’s not quite ready to fall in yet. We see how six can’t decide if it wants us to stand beside it or not. We watch it take two steps towards independence and one step back towards us every day. We know how sturdy and strong six is… and yet how frail and fragile.
We know what six looks like. How beautiful it is. How precious. How brightly it shines with promise. How much it looks towards the future… toward 7,8,9… How much it looks like forever.
We know what six looks like and can only in our worst nightmares imagine how devastating its loss in this senseless and evil way would be. We can only barely imagine the wreckage and the despair and the utter hopelessness that would be left if six were brutally and suddenly taken from us. We know we couldn’t bear life without it.
Yes, we know what six looks like. And we know that, to us — like it must be for those other mothers and fathers in Connecticut — six is the whole world.
Jennifer Rowe Walters

xoxo,
Jo

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For those still reading… Thankful.

“I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart…” -The Lumineers

It’s been quite some time since I last posted. I keep meaning to post, but then I think, “What’s the point, Steve (my lone reader) is home now!”  Is it time for me to go public with this? I don’t know. I don’t think I’m ready. I’m a little scared that people will think that I think my life is so amazing and special, why wouldn’t my friends want to read about it?! Let’s clear this up – I do, in fact, think that my life is amazing and special. However, I do not think that it is any more amazing than the next person’s. I’m just incredibly bored during nap times (you know, when I’m not sweeping, mopping, folding clothes, etc) and feel the need to keep these poor, precious brain cells of mine working. And so I write.

It’s been almost a month since Steve got home. As you can imagine, we’ve been a little busy. I’m not complaining. It’s the holiday season so there is always something going on, especially on the weekends. We’ve had a couple of baby showers for my little sister (Steve not included – he went to a Redskins game during shower #1), had an amazing family photo shoot, went to the beach with my family, ran a 10k with Steve, babysat a 3 month old for a week, Steve went to a wedding (during baby shower #2), and I started training for a marathon (eek).

A few pics to share:

-Baby shower #1

My little sister is going to be a mommy!

-Beach with my family

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Graham hanging out with Sarah and Susie in Duck!

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Checking out the beach with Uncle Jake.

-Family photo shoot

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My two babies!

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My sweet life.

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Cute kid.

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Being a big boy in a chair.

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Posed haha.

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Steve is finally home 🙂

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Graham loves his daddy.

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And his mommy…obviously 😉

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And we love him 🙂

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Those eyes…

-Week with Chloe (only one shot to share – I had my hands full!)

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Graham caught red-handed trying to get Chloe out of his swing 😉 Such a fun week!

Sneak peek at upcoming posts:

-marathon training

-holiday cheer

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Santa’s helper

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Single digits….9 days!

“Ahh, Home. Let me come Home.
Home is wherever I’m with you .” -Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

If you can’t tell from my LACK of posts…I’ve been a little busy. And when I haven’t been “busy”…I’ve been sitting on the couch zoning out, letting my mind, body and soul relax. It usually doesn’t happen until about 9pm, and by then it’s wine o’clock and mindless trash television time. So, Steve, I’m sorry that you haven’t gotten posts. I’ve been conserving my energy for the daytime when I’m busy keeping our son happy and alive, and keeping our dog happy and alive. The second is much harder.

I just used the word busy 3 times in the last paragraph. Three is not an ungodly number, but I’m reminded of the fact that I use busy a lot to describe my life. The other day, I saw (on pinterest) a wonderful quote and it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. Steve you will be so happy. The pin simply said: Stop the glorification of busy. My 2013 resolution is going to be to stop the glorification of busy. Now, Steve, don’t get me wrong…we all know I don’t like to sit around at home on the weekends (esp now that I’m home all week)….but I do want to slow down a bit.

While busy is still in my vocabulary, here are the things that have been keeping me so:

-A great afternoon hiking Sugarloaf Mountain with Britini and Chloe. Our hike was followed by a trip to the local vineyard 🙂

We made it to the summit.

Rewarding our hard work 🙂

Sweet moments…

I mean, I would go back.

-Little Friday night fun…

“Dad, Mom is embarrassing me…again.” (fun at the local hardware store)

FIRE PIT success 🙂 Didn’t even come close to setting fire to the house or deck.

-Halloween take 1:

Misty May and Kerri Walsh take Falls Church. (the “sports goggles” didn’t last past the pictures)

Action shot.

-Marine Corp Marathon!!! (didn’t take Graham – too cold and too long):

Just out for a casual run. (it really was amazing)

Kristen crushing 26.2 miles!!

The cheer team…lots of, “way to go runners” and “looking strong” over. and over. and over.

-The Real Halloween:

Healthy breakfast before tons of candy – toast and fruit, like a big boy. (didn’t actually give baby candy)

lovin’ my little scarecrow.

Keeping Graham up past his bedtime…

The whole crew! True story, Athena and Princess Ariel were on the yellow brick road.

Wizard of Oz Dahls

-And, of course, the everyday sweetness:

Snuggling before nap time.

Hugs and kisses.

First fort!!!! (the fun lasted for 5 min….I think Scout liked it the most)

-We are soooooo looking forward to NEXT WEDNESDAY!!!!!! Seriously can’t wait until Steve gets to be in the pictures 🙂

xoxo
Jo

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I’ve lost count…

“If you wanna know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss!” -Aretha Franklin

It was another exciting weekend for Graham and me. Honestly, it was probably most exciting for Graham! Let me explain…

This weekend was a “fox reunion”. The JMU Foxes consist of a group of girls that Steve was friends with in college. They lived in Fox Hills….hence the whole fox thing. Now that I am MRS. Steve Dahl, I have been deemed an honorary fox. Graham was the start of the next fox generation. There are now 3 baby foxes and one more is on the way.

Important moments from the weekend:

-Friday: The Griswolds, I mean Orks/Dahls, loaded up the rooftop carrier with diapers and strollers and headed to Pennsylvania.

-Britini and I decided that we were sister wives for the weekend.

-Our babies slept all of the way to Hershey. (awesome)

-During late-night campfire, Bricker tried to light me on fire. As it turns out, when you take a gas can and squirt it on an already lit fire, balls of fire may start shooting out of said gas can. Fortunately, moments before the explosion I had gotten out of my seat to save the dog, who was dangerously close to the fire. Lucky for me, I only got hit by a couple of fire balls.

-Saturaday: Lunch at Brickers, Chocolate World Tour, Hershey Park in the Dark.

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“Aunt” Alex reading to Sienna and Graham.
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Chan with Graham and Sienna.
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Bricker with Graham @Brickers 🙂
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Graham and his girls.
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Hanging on on the front of the truck with Uncle Andy.
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Baby foxes.
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Graham making his moves on the girls…stud. (I think Sienna likes him – not sure about Chloe…)
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And nothing completes a weekend quite like a photo shoot with some pumpkins 🙂

-Looking forward to when you can be in some of the pictures. We miss you.

xoxo,
Jo